During the summer, while reporting on a story about man caves, MEL contributing writer C. Brian Smith came across a group of men who referred to themselves as MGTOW (an abbreviation for Men Going Their Own Way and pronounced “MIG-tau”). They’re almost impossible to broadly categorize — a point they hammered home emphatically to Smith, telling him over and over again that there was no single definition of a MGTOW and that they were a mix of many different types of men. But they did share two things in common: 1) They had sworn off any kind of meaningful relationship with women; and 2) they regularly punctuated sentences with “ZFG” (or, “zero fucks given”). Which is to say, they weren’t an easy bunch for Smith to get his arms around.
Starting a conversation in the MGTOW.com forums was a little like trying to make small talk with Biff Tannen from Back to the Future. “Brothers, let me strongly suggest that you don’t give this ‘journalist’ the time of day — ZFG,” OldBill warned everyone. “My advice: NO,” agreed BigBoss. “Loose lips, sink ships.” I was invited by more than one MGHOW to “talk to the empty chair,” Clint Eastwood-style.
They were leery about responding to any kind of media because they had recently been burned by a number of outlets and felt that journalists went out of their way to shit on them. They weren’t entirely wrong. This VICE profile, in particular, pissed them off because it featured a photo of an overweight guy in a homemade MGTOW superhero costume. “You just know what type of ‘MGTOWs’ Mr. Smith will gleefully quote,” OldBill assumed. “Remember that fat retard in a homemade superhero costume carrying a MGTOW placard and protesting outside a feminist conference?”
Eventually, however, I got the Keymaster, one of their leaders (or at least the leader of MGTOW.com), to respond. The only reason he was willing to do so, he specified, was because I wrote for a men’s lifestyle publication. Little by little, I got the Keymaster — and a few other MGTOW — to answer some questions via their forums. “Brian, you have to understand that most of us just want to be left alone,” TaxGuy explained. “The empty chair is the perfect interview. Because here’s the thing, we aren’t doing anything but just living our own lives on our own terms. We’ve just stopped drinking the Kool-Aid that the dream life is a wife, a house, 2.4 kids and a minivan.”
Smitty the Great One, another MGHOW, employed a slightly more combative metaphor in his description to me: “MGTOW are the Viet Cong of the gender war. The men’s rights activists don’t like us because, while we agree with them on some things, we won’t be their cannon fodder in a war we know they can’t win. Pickup artists hate us because they can’t make money off us. Feminists hate us because we won’t fight them. And women hate us because we won’t give them what they want.”
I spent close to a month in the forums, and while I never spoke in person or over the phone to a MGTOW, I did strike up something of a relationship with them.
And so, the morning the piece ran, I posted a link to it in the MGTOW.com forums and thanked the Keymaster and the other guys for participating. Not surprisingly, their responses were mixed. They were initially rattled not so much by the article itself, but by a (female!) MEL commenter who disparaged their penis size.
Mudwhistle: Lol one of the article’s comments said “It’s because they have small dicks.”
Keymaster: How a woman is able to know across the internet how big a penis is on a man she never met or spoke to is beyond me. She doesn’t even know the color or make of my car, or what socks you are wearing. But she knows how big our dicks are? A woman mocking penis size is like a person who takes the bus to work trying to mock someone’s car. Dumb and embarrassing.
Eric Lauder: Perhaps all men who suspect that their dicks aren’t bigger than average should not have sex with women and use a Fleshlight instead. Then let’s see if she’ll be satisfied by the outcome.
They also weren’t quite sure how to process the fact that I was gay.
Eric Lauder: Nice article. More balanced than most of the shit out there. You just did a little error, Brian: not all MGTOW are heterosexual. There are some gay guys among us, Russky is bisexual, and personally I have had a relationship with a M2F. Pre-op, of course.
Chaff/Flare: Yo CB902, whats your experience with dating/women?
Cbriansmith902: I’m gay, so not much.
Keymaster: Well that explains it all, and reveals why you feel a need to call men…….. “straight.” Which is pretty odd, when men are DESIGNED to be “straight.” “Hello, you’ve reached the department of redundancy department!!”
Cbriansmith902: If we titled the piece “The Men Who Want Nothing to Do with Women” most would assume the story is about gay men, which would be totally inaccurate.
Keymaster: It’s a dumb fucking title because it skews perceptions and you know it. You want to be accurate? You say:
- “The Men who absolutely see no benefit in signing a marriage contract”
- “The Men who would rather have a LIFE than a WIFE”
….or even better…..
- “Meet the woman who are totally unbearable to live with date or marry”….
In the end, though — whether I was gay or straight, fair or not — in their eyes I was simply incapable of being able to get them.
GhostDog: How can we expect a gay journalist like Brian to understand? Can a sunset be explained to a blind man? @brian, in the confines of your world you did a good job. However we are not from the same planet. You live as a loyal subject of planet GinoEarth. Even if you are gay you still follow its commandments. We are aliens from a MGTOW planet. You cannot let go of false images of the female gender. You cannot take them out of their holy throne or disobey their rules. Because you think them being something, when we tell the TRUTH, you think we are bitter or hateful. Unconsciously you have taken a negative stance, even if you tried to be neutral.
That was one way to put it. My buddy the Keymaster had another, bringing a bit more “ZFG” to the table.
Hitman: What was brian thinking about when he wrote that?
Keymaster: Cock. Up his ass. His audience is more obsessed with penis size than FACTS.